Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Indirect effects of weeds on rice plants via shared heteropteran herbivores.

Abstract

In agricultural ecosystems, weeds indirectly affect crops via phytophagous insects that feed on both weeds and crops. In paddy fields, heteropteran insects are among the most serious pests of rice plants. In some heteropterans, the proboscis is used to suck rice ears, inducing black spots on the grains (i.e., pecky rice). Even a low proportion of pecky rice (>0.1%) significantly decreases the market price of rice; in Japan, this problem has led to severe economic losses. Because heteropterans feed on the reproductive organs of weeds as well as rice plants, various weeds that grow around paddy fields may increase the populations of heteropterans that cause pecky rice. To clarify which types of weeds can be used by heteropterans causing pecky rice, we investigated the interactions between plants (including rice plants) and heteropterans in an agricultural landscape in Hyogo, Japan. We observed 833 individuals of 27 heteropteran species (13 families) feeding on the reproductive organs of 35 plant species (Poales: three families) including rice plants from June to October 2019. All heteropteran species were native, whereas six of 35 plant species were non-native. We found 12 heteropteran species on rice plants; nine of the 12 heteropteran species fed on weeds (a total of 32 species) as well as rice plants, whereas the other three species fed exclusively on rice plants. Heteropterans fed on native weeds throughout the growing seasons (June-October), but on non-native weeds only before rice plants bloomed (June-July). Therefore, diverse weed species that grow around paddy fields are food resources for heteropteran insects and they might indirectly increase the incidence of pecky rice.